World championship team and individual silver medallist Padraig McCarthy took top billing in a thrilling eventing grand prix at the TheraPlate UK Liverpool International Horse Show.
Irish star Padraig, who shone at the World Equestrian Games in North America last year, claimed a memorable victory aboard Rosemaber Lancuest.
The class, sponsored by John Oates Horseboxes, tested rider and horse over a combination of showjumping fences and cross-country obstacles in a course designed by Captain Mark Phillips at M&S Bank Arena.
Three seconds were added for every fence down, and Padraig did just enough, pipping British challenger Paul Sims and Second City by just six hundredths of a second to the £2,500 top prize.
McCarthy’s fellow Irishman Cathal Daniels, European individual bronze medallist earlier this year, took third, with Joseph Murphy fourth and Emma Hyslop-Webb fifth.
Riders had qualified for the final via qualifiers at the Bolesworth International and Bolesworth Young Horse Championship earlier this year, in addition to some wildcard entries.
The field included top British stars such as Gemma Tattersall, Laura Collett, Izzy Taylor and Emily KIng, but Padraig continued his rich vein of form to lead home a 20-strong field.
“I knew it was going to be between the few riders that it turned out to be,” Padraig said.
“I have been chasing Cathal around Europe for the last few weeks, so I said no matter what happened here, I had to beat Cathal! That was my main objective.
“I think it’s an amazing concept. It is a brilliant night out for the owners, and it’s a chance to be in a really nice venue like this here in Liverpool.
“We don’t get that in eventing. We are in the fields in all the weathers – that’s the sport, and that’s great – but this brings a n new dimension.
“It is a class that really captures the imagination. There was a great atmosphere, and the crowd love it. There was a great buzz.
“When you put showjumping fences into a cross-country course, there are always going to be questions. And everyone was tempted by the joker at the end.
“I think you need a horse with a bit of experience, You need one that is canny and has been around the block a little bit. You certainly need a horse with experience.”